Isobelle Violet PRICE
Also known as: née Hesketh, Isobel
Died: 29/10/1957Special Achievements:
First lone woman (with her four children) to run a station in Central Australia - Harper Springs near Ti Tree (1924-1930s). Widow of Telegraph Master of Old Telegraph Station, Alice Springs (1916-24).Additional Information:
She emigrated from England as an eighteen year old and married Fred Price in Palmerston, Northern Territory three years later.
Fred became Telegraph Master at Alice Springs Telegraph Station during WWI when there was a manpower shortage, and the four Price children did much of the stock work.
The Prices took up the lease of Harper Springs Station, northeast of Alice, for Fred's retirement but unfortunately he died unexpectedly. Isobel returned to work the station herself with children Molly, Pearl, Alf and Ron, aged from 10 to 17 years. From Oodnadatta railhead they journeyed to Harper Springs by horse and buggy. They brought with them 200 merino-cross sheep and three camels, assisted solely by George, an Aboriginal man. The journey took eight weeks.
They collected their goats from the Telegraph Station and took a further four weeks to reach Harper Springs. Here they built their first home --- a simple bough shed --- and ran the property, eventually moving to neighbouring Woola Downs in the 1930s.
Bucknall, Graeme. (1990). Pioneers of the Old Track: Oodnadatta-Alice Springs, 1870-1929. Darwin: Northern Territory Library Service, p. 11.
Powell, Pearl and McRae, Eileen. (1996). By Packhorse and Buggy. Alice Springs, Northern Territory: Eileen McRae.
Isaacs, Jennifer. (1990). Pioneer Women of the Bush and Outback. Sydney: Lansdowne Publishing, p. 26-29.
“The young, and to judge from the photographs that survive, elegant Isobel Violet Hesketh, married Fred Alfred Price, a telegraph operator, in 1898 in Darwin, where he was the second last operator. After a short stay in Adelaide, the young couple and their children moved to the telegraph station near Alice Springs, where Fred Price was in charge from 1916 to 1924. Towards the end of this period, he bought a property known as Harper’s Springs.
In 1924, while on holidays in Adelaide, Fred Price died. In a remarkable move, Isobel gathered her four children … and returned to run the property herself. Accompanied by an Aboriginal youth, the family travelled overland for 10 weeks in buggy and dray taking with them three camels, a few goats and horses, and 200 head of sheep. …
On arrival at Harper’s Springs, Isobel and the children gathered rough Mitchell grass and young bushes to make a brush dwelling over a tent and from this established the beginnings of a prosperous sheep property. Although Harper’s Springs proved unsuitable for sheep, adjacent land that they had bought soon became known as Woolla Downs, because here the sheep thrived until the herd numbered 3000. …
Isobel Price died in Adelaide in 1957. ... She was observed late in life walking with the cattle to a fresh-water hole 19 kilometres away --- her sidesaddle had broken, yet she refused to ride astride.”